Devotees of Ganesha who are also environmentally conscious face a dilemma: the idols are usually made of Plaster of Paris, and decorated with non-biodegradable paint. This year, worshippers in Bengaluru have an option that isn’t just environment friendly, it is designed to bring more greenery to life.
The ‘green Ganeshas’ by a Bengaluru-based start-up in collaboration with an agriculturist and a certifier of sustainable products, among others, are made of natural clay, and coloured (on request) with organic vegetable dyes.
That’s not all: inside each idol is a seed ball; that is, seeds inserted in a mix of peat from coconut waste and manure. The choice of seeds is left to the customers, but the start-up, GrowShareSustain, focusses in food sustainability, so they encourage buyers to choose vegetable seeds. Purchasers can also choose to buy, along with the idol, a tray filled with natural red soil and manure.
Sapling ready in a week
The recommendation is that, at the end of the festival, instead of immersing the idol, it is watered every day to dissolve it; the process may take around six days. Or one could choose to immerse the idol in a bucket or other large container, with water, and let it dissolve slowly. As the idol dissolves, the seed balls which fill the hollow interior, merge into the clay and soil. If kept in a place with enough sunlight, and watered regularly — if not a garden, a balcony or window box — saplings will sprout in four days to a week.
Answer to pollution
“It was when we noticed the adverse effect of Plaster of Paris idols on the environment that we came up with this idea,” says Apoorva Jaiswal from GrowShareSustain. “It is all pretty when the festivities start, but at the end of it, you see parts of the idol strewn around. That is not praying.”
The idols are available via the company’s web site, growsharesustain.com. They plan to make around 200 in their first batch, and more depending on orders. Prices start at around ₹220 for a six-inch idol.